Earlier this month, Shakey Graves, also known as Alejandro Rose-Garcia, the dynamic folk-rock musician from Austin, Texas, released two new original songs in The Sleep EP. The two songs, “Counting Sheep” and “Kids These Days” will be the first two tracks off of his upcoming album Can’t Wake Up, set to be released in early May.
Shakey Graves is arguably most well-known for his original image as a solo act kicking his modified suitcase kick-drum, strumming his guitar, and belting out powerful folksy lyrics as his body shakes and bounces to the beat. Nearly every track off of his 2011 debut album Roll the Bones features the artist playing solo.
In 2014, after signing with Dualtone Records and releasing his album And Then the War Came, which rocketed the star into the mainstream American alternative music scene, Shakey Graves began touring as a three-member band into 2015. Still, the group’s sound was largely quite similar to Shakey Graves’ earlier work with Alejandro’s vocals dominating the folk-rock tracks. In September of that year, Shakey Graves won the Best Emerging Artist award at the 2015 Americana Music Awards.
Fast-forward to January 2018 when Shakey Graves announced the upcoming release of his new album Can’t Wake Up for May 4, 2018. On February 9, he gave us The Sleep EP as a small taste of what is to come on the anticipated new release.
Both songs on the EP signal a bit of a transformation for the Austin-based artist, and are markedly different from his previous work. The first track “Counting Sheep” shows that Shakey Graves may be moving away from his folksy sound into a dreamier, jazzier, new realm. His vocals, though still distinctly Shakey, deviate from his usual raspy, bouncy, delivery to sound sleepier and more melodic. The sound is reminiscent of the musical territory of similar blues-rock artists such as Bahamas or Alabama Shakes. Shakey Graves’ unique voice lends itself very well to the moodier style, and though different, the song is still clearly influenced by the artist’s earlier work and is a powerful showcase for his dynamic musical talent.
“Kids These Days” also moves away from Shakey’s folk-rock roots, though in a slightly different direction. A catchy rock ballad that conjures images of Cage the Elephant or Cold War Kids, “Kids These Days” proves that Shakey Graves is capable of taking on the sound of more mainstream indie rock, while still delivering that uniqueness factor that is what drew so many to his music in the first place. One way in which he accomplished this is through lyrics. When it comes to powerful lyrics that stir the imagination or effortlessly tap into our emotions, Shakey Graves knows what he is doing. The lyrics capture something so true and relatable about youth that anyone who lived through their teenage years can relate to. Shakey has always had a knack for bottling nostalgia and intertwining it into his music, and he has shown us yet another successful example of his skill for harnessing truth and collective human memory through simple lyrical prose.
There is also a drastic change seen in both tracks that moves away from Shakey Graves’ acoustic one-man act style into more electronic or full band styles seen in many other alternative rock artists of today. The Sleep EP signals an exciting shift for the artist and though it was indeed his bluesy, folksy sound that drew adoring fans to him since 2011, he hasn’t shown us any reason to doubt his skill at conquering new sounds and styles. We’ll just have to wait until May 4 to see what else he has in store for us. The Sleep EP is available for listen on Spotify.